Blackjack is a casino game in which players compete against the dealer to get a hand that totals 21 or less. This hand is called a “natural,” and it beats any other hand that does not exceed 21. The house edge in blackjack is about 1%, and player deviations from basic strategy increase the house advantage to about 1.4%.
The game has a number of rules, including ones that help reduce the house edge. Some of these rules are simple, while others require careful attention and judgment. Some even involve skill, such as card counting.
The first rule of basic strategy is to keep track of the cards you see. This can be done with a pen and paper or on your computer. The idea is to figure out what cards the dealer has, what those cards are worth, and then make a decision about whether to hit, stand, or double down based on that information.
In addition, you should watch the dealer to determine what cards she is showing and how often they change. If you notice that she is showing a lot of cards with low values, you can expect her to bust more often than usual. You can also adjust your strategy accordingly, by increasing your bet or reducing it.
If you have a hand that is very unlikely to win, you can surrender half of your wager before the dealer checks for blackjack. This is a good way to reduce your risk and improve your chances of winning.
In blackjack, a player can split pairs if they have an ace and a non-ace in their hand. This is beneficial because it gives the player a better chance of winning than if they were dealt two cards that had the same value.
If you can count cards, you will be able to predict which cards the dealer has and thus how likely it is that they have a natural blackjack (a ten-valued card). It is also possible to tell when the deck is “ten rich,” which is when the number of face and ace cards in the deck are higher than would be expected in a freshly shuffled deck.
This helps you to bet more on hands that have a better chance of winning. It is also important to note that the dealer can double your bet before checking for blackjack, so it is a good idea to check for a double before deciding to split.
Some casinos offer blackjack tournaments, in which players try to qualify for the top chip positions at the table. Depending on the number of competitors, these tournaments can be played over several rounds.
Those who are able to consistently win in a tournament may be offered a seat at the main table or a seat in an exclusive club, which may come with perks such as free meals or special bonuses.